The Real Beauty photographers, a friend of ours, and I got to spend some time recently at a local nursing home. The women were having fun make-overs done by a Mary Kay representative, and the activities coordinator thought it would be nice to top off the make-over time with a photo shoot. We soon attracted a crowd, and the girls got to photograph and talk to women who hadn't even signed up for the make-over OR the shoot!
I have to admit, I don't visit nursing homes very often. I give the same excuses you give for not visiting: I don't have the time, I don't know anyone there, I don't think they want to be bothered. But the excuses I give and the reasons I don't go are very different. I don't go because nursing homes make me feel sad, some of the residents make me feel uncomfortable, and I don't like to yell all the time. Those are not good reasons.
Aubrianah, Faith, Laura, and I did have to yell a lot. And even when we yelled the ladies still couldn't hear us well. How annoying that must be, to not be able to hear other people talking to you! But once we got a good volume going we did all right, and we heard a lot about beauty from the women who are the most experienced at being beautiful out of any of the women we've talked to for the project. The women in the nursing home have been beautiful the longest.
Rena told us about her husband, and how beautiful she felt on her wedding day, 60 years ago. She remembers happiness, until she lost him. But she told us how she found her joy again, and she had the most beautiful smile on her face when she talked about the joy she has in her heart when she goes through her memories.
Carmen told us about her husband, who lives across the street in another part of the nursing home. He has Alzheimers Disease and they have to live separately. But she goes over daily to have lunch with him. He hasn't forgotten her, even though he's forgotten his children and even where he is. She tells him every day about the 'kids' and their home, and I think that's beautiful.
All the women talked about two things in response to our questions about beauty. The inner beauty that comes from Jesus, and the experiential beauty that comes from loving their families. It puts the Real Beauty project into perspective, doesn't it?